HomePipe Hooks You Up, Sans Cloud Storage

Still not sure about moving all your key documents to the cloud, but still needing to be able to access them from anywhere? Want to collaborate but need to maintain a decent security level?

Enter HomePipe. This very cool, free-for-entry-level application allows instant remote access and file sharing from your main storage computer via any Web browser and pretty much any mobile device. Looking much like a cross between Pogoplug (but no hardware) and Dropbox (but no online storage requirement), HomePipe allows secure access between your Mac, Windows or Linux desktop and your iOS-powered, Android-powered or Windows Phone 7-powered device (apparently a Blackberry app is coming). It feels like Dropbox from the end-user perspective, but it is anything but. The files are still stored on your home or company computer and you can access and share from any other computer or mobile device. The resulting connection acts much like a Virtual Private Network, with the ability to cross firewalls. You can edit documents in-app, but be careful – there are no automatic backups or version control. Audio streaming is also supported, in the event you use HomePipe to make your audio video library available on the go.

Why HomePipe? There are no file size restrictions and you can purchase unlimited connections. Keep your data in-house while you access and share documents, presentations, photos and media. No need to spend money on storage or spend multiple hours uploading, organizing or syncing in the cloud.

HomePipe is free with a 10 use per month limit.  The next tier costs $23 per year with unlimited remote uses and no advertising. The mobile applications are all free. HomePipe is looking to woo enterprise users, with new added security features – you can specify access to shared files, require that users access via secure login and enjoy authenticated and encrypted content access via TLS/SSL.

Nice to see intermediate sharing options for the cloud-phobic.

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Post Anything To Twitter With Twi.tt

Twitter is a great resource for sharing – be it blog posts, news items, images or videos. But what if you want to share more than that? Twi.tt has you covered. Twi.tt lets you share pictures, video, documents, audio and even polls on Twitter. Using your existing Twitter account, simply fill out the simple form on Twi.tt’s home page, add your own intro text and hit send. Images and video can be uploaded, shared from URL or captured via webcam. Upload or share documents by URL. Polls are created onsite, within the dialogue box that opens when you select the polls option. The result is a link posted in your Twitter stream that leads back to the poll box. While music sharing is not yet activated, it apparently is on its way, as there is an audio sharing button on the home page. In the meantime, there are plenty of other music sharing services that link to Twitter to hold you over until Twi.tt finishes building its site.  A simple tool with a simple, but very useful purpose!

Can Dropbox Get Any Cooler? YES – Printing!

Ever need to print from your mobile phone? I know I have and the workarounds aren’t always so pretty. Air Print is coming in iOS 4.2, but you need special hardware for that. Print apps are available, but they can be buggy and they definitely cost.

There is a free solution that is as simple and as elegant as it gets. Use Dropbox. I love this tip so much that I shared the original post in Google Reader and I have to write about it here too.

If you aren’t already using Dropbox, stop right now and head over here and sign up for the FREE cloud storage service. You can find out more about why Dropbox is so awesome in my post about it here.

This printing solution will work with any mobile phone, not just my iPhone. Simply install Dropbox and download a utility onto the computer that is connected to your printer. This utility monitors your Dropbox folder for any new print jobs. Get the utility here. Once you unzip the file and open eprint.vbs, the utility creates a sub-folder inside your main Dropbox folder called PrintQueue where mobile print jobs queue up and a second sub-folder called logs where completed jobs are archived. Send the print jobs from your mobile phone, either through the dedicated Dropbox application for your device, or use Habilis (link here) which works with Dropbox via email. Once your file hits Dropbox, it gets slotted into the proper folder and the desktop utility takes over and prints your file.

You can turn off the utility by searching wscript.exe on your computer or pulling it up in Windows Task Manager. As long as you have a program associated with a particular file format loaded on the main computer, you can print associated files via this system.

I can’t wait to get home and check this out.

Hat tip to Amit at Digital Inspiration blog.

Et Cetera

First a word from our sponsor. Well, I guess that’s me. I have been quite busy over the last week on matters other than writing for the Studio. I wrote some guest blog posts that were published on other sites. I had much money-making work to do. And I have been trying to tweak and tighten my information gathering, organizing and sharing system to an even greater degree than it already was wrapped and wound. More on this latter effort in future posts – I want to get as much information as possible on these new systems before passing the information on to you.

I am expecting a call this week from the fine people at SkyGrid. They identified me as a feedback-oriented user and have asked for a little bit more of my time to pick my brain further on what I like and what I don’t like about the service.  Once again, I find myself impressed with SkyGrid – they are clearly more than casually interested in what their users think, to the point that they actively solicit feedback above and beyond the normal “suggestion box” black hole that you find in most venues.

Finally, a cool iPhone app alert: Good Reader is a PDF storage and viewing application for the iPhone. While large PDFs are its specialty, it also can hold and show MS Office, text, audio and video files. The app allows you to search and scan the documents for information. iPhone Alley reviews the application favorably here. There are some limitations, as would be expected in a .99 cent application, but for storing, viewing and searching on your phone, the price is well worth it.